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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Outer Limits: Limiting Screen Time

When I was a kid, the big push was to limit TV time.. get kids outside and away from the entertainment screen.

Many years have passed since then. Technology, as great as it is, has created even MORE screens with DVDs, gaming boxes, computers and handheld electronic games. The urgency should be even more apparent. Children should have definitive limits on their screen time balanced with interaction with other kids, outdoor play, sports, hiking or other physical activities.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids have no more than 1 to 2 hours of television programming per day, which includes computer time. They also discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 years. 

So what can you do? 
  1. Keep televisions and computers out of children's bedrooms.  This step alone will improve test scores and behavioral issues.
  2. If you aren't watching it, turn off the TV.  Using the television as background noise draws children in to watch and often you are not aware of the content.
  3. Set a good example by limiting your own screen time. That includes the computer.
  4. As school, activities and family time should take priority, consider restricting TV and computer time to the weekends only.
  5. Do not make it a habit to eat and watch TV. Mealtime should be family time to talk and discuss events.
  6. Use your browser or other software to protect your children from online dangers.
  7. Use a computer time limiting software to help you enforce your limitations. There are many options available for free or low cost.
Parents set the example so take time to do physical activities with your kids. Go the park, take a hike, ride bikes. The possibilities are endless and the benefits are a healthier family. ☺

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